Comic Book Review – Detective Comics #994

The countdown to Detective Comics #1000 and the Caped Crusader’s Eightieth Anniversary begins Wednesday 12/12/18 with the release of Detective Comics #994 by the dynamic duo of Peter J Tomasi and Doug Mahnke.

Part 1 Mythology Raze

This issue begins with a five-panel page that succinctly recaps the origin of Batman. Next, a beautiful double page spread shows Batman swinging through the city. He is responding to a call from the Gotham Aquarium. Two corpses were discovered floating in an exhibit who are done up to look exactly like Thomas and Martha Wayne on the night of their murders, down to the same exact clothing and accessories. Gordon asks Batman, “Why made up to look like the Waynes and why today?” Batman responds by telling Gordon it’s the anniversary of their deaths outside the Monarch Theatre.

Across town, Leslie Thompkins is finishing a shift at the Park Row Community Clinic and about to leave when she encounters a hulking monstrosity holding the Bat Signal over his head. The monster hurls the Bat Signal, attempting to smash Leslie. She quickly runs back into the building and avoids getting hurt with the debris of the signal. She finds a comm-link given to her previously from Batman and sends out an SOS. Batman tells her what she needs to do to survive her encounter – by heading to the roof and trying to make her escape by jumping toward another building. Leslie, too afraid to follow his orders, hides on the roof as the monster makes his way topside.

Leslie attacks the monster from behind, but he grabs her, turns her around, and emits a gas directly into her face, just as Batman reaches the rooftop. Batman and the monster tussle as Leslie realizes she was bait to lure Batman to this exact location. When it seems Batman has the upper hand, the monster throws Leslie off the roof.  Batman grabs her in midair, as they crash through the front of the clinic. Batman asks Leslie if she is all right and turns her over. As he does this, it’s revealed that Leslie has been poisoned with Joker Venom, as her transformation begins with her starting to laugh uncontrollably. TO BE CONTINUED!

Batman has a small circle of friends and confidants and one of them was Leslie Thompkins. She was a friend of the Waynes and after their deaths, Leslie acted as a parental figure to help Bruce deal with the grief and loss of his parents. Leslie was one of the few individuals that knew Bruce was Batman as he would come to her when he needed medical attention that Alfred was unable to provide.

Someone is coming after Batman both psychologically and emotionally by reopening the wounds of his parent’s deaths and attacking his adopted mother. The monster depicted in the issue is a callback to Clayface, but he was killed by Batwoman in an earlier issue of Detective Comics. Joker is a likely suspect, but anyone with a chemistry degree could have formulated the Joker Venom. It’s too early to tell who is trying to destroy Bruce this time, but the opening issue of this storyline has me intrigued and the return of Tomasi and Mahnke as writer and artist is the perfect team to ring in the New Year and Batman’s anniversary.

Detective Comics 995 will be released January 2, 2019. The solicitation for this issue: Alfred Pennyworth…attacked at the Wayne mansion! Who’s hunting those closest to Batman? The monstrous shadow creature plaguing Gotham City gains the upper hand when two of the Dark Knight’s most ardent allies fall prey to the violent vendetta. Will those tragedies send Batman over the edge? Good thing he’s on his way to Arkham Asylum—but will he investigate a murder, or get incarcerated in a padded cell?